How can Acupuncture help Fertility Treatments
How can Acupuncture help Fertility Treatments? Many healthy couples find they have unknown barriers to becoming pregnant
that are beyond the scope of western medicine. These are often undiagnosed or
overlooked, since lab results can be misleading.
At Acupuncture Cork, I use acupuncture, herbs and dietary changes to re-balance the body, and restore it to health and vitality.
Even if you have no physical evidence that would indicate infertility, the
body must work together in balance. Undiagnosed food sensitivities, particularly
gluten and soy-based, interfere with hormone balance in a way that is difficult to
diagnose. Furthermore, long-term contraceptive use leaves many women in a
deeply unbalanced state.
When treating men and women who are trying to conceive naturally, it is best to treat both partners. When trying to conceive through assisted means it is possible to only treat the woman.
According to Chinese doctors, acupuncture may increase IVF success rates by up to 35%. However, when acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapies are combined and performed by a fully licensed and trained practitioner, the success rates can be increased by as much as 60%. If you are going through a fertility procedure and would like to have acupuncture please let me know. I have helped many couples over the past 19 years.
This process takes patience: it took time for the body to become out of balance, and it takes time for cells to regenerate and hormones to re balance themselves. Some of our clients then become pregnant naturally, and others proceed with IVF with much greater success than if they went for IVF without taking the time to put their bodies back in balance.
Please allow a minimum of 3 months/3 menstrual cycles for results.
Once pregnant, many of our fertility clients then continue their acupuncture therapy to reduce the discomfort associated with pregnancy, such as pain, morning sickness, and insomnia.
If you are considering acupuncture, we encourage you to get in for your initial visit as soon as you can to can develop a treatment plan that suits you, even if you don’t start the treatment plan until later. If supplementation or herbs are advised, they take time to work, so beginning earlier is best. Even if you decide to wait to start acupuncture, don’t wait to start supplementation. It takes 4 – 5 months for an egg to mature. If you can get started on a good quality preconception formula 3 – 6 months prior to conception/transfer, your eggs are going to have the opportunity to grow and mature in a nutrient rich environment. Our experience is that women who supplement their diets with appropriate amounts of vitamins and antioxidants typically have embryos with less fragmentation.
Why acupuncture? With acupuncture you can increase the blood flow to your internal organs. This is how we nourish every cell in our bodies.
Why acupuncture? Acupuncture helps regulate and balance the hormones by affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and is a very important tool in the fertility process.
How many treatments are required? This is a question that I hear more frequently than perhaps any other. Before you begin any treatment plan, you want to know what kind of commitment you’re going to have to make both in time and money. Often this question is answered with, “It all depends on your situation”, which is true, but here are some guidelines that should give you a little more to work with.
If you are a woman seeking help with fertility related issues, naturally or assisted, there are certain times during your cycle that we like to see you.
Generally speaking, the most important times to have acupuncture are:
• During the follicular phase – day 5, 6, 7 or 8 of your menstrual cycle (day 1 being the first day of heavy flow)
• The day before, day of or day after ovulation (as indicated by your LH surge)
• During implantation time (6 – 10 days after ovulation).
This works out to be approximately once a week except when you are menstruating.
If there is something more significant going on, like lining issues for example, we may want to see you twice a week until it is properly addressed. However, the majority of the women we treat fall into the once a week category.
If you are going through an IVF cycle, it is best if you can start acupuncture 6 to 8 weeks prior to transfer. The most important times to have acupuncture are the same as above, however, once you begin your stimulation medications you may be seen twice a week depending upon information gathered from your ultrasounds.
In an ideal world, we would like to begin seeing you 3 – 4 months prior to conception/transfer so that we can help with egg quality, work on any cycle or lining irregularities, address any nutritional concerns, and help reduce stress. If you are going through IVF, FET or DET we are also working to prepare you for your transfer.
Once you achieve pregnancy, I like to see you once a week through the first trimester to help uphold the pregnancy and assist with any morning sickness symptoms. During the second and third trimesters, you can have prenatal massages to help keep you nice and relaxed, and acupuncture can be used to help with other discomforts sometimes associated with pregnancy, like sciatica. Around week 34 – 36 of your pregnancy we begin seeing you once a week for pre-birth acupuncture.
A 2006 study demonstrates that during the first three weeks of pregnancy women with high cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone responsible for several stress related activities in the body) are nearly three times more likely to miscarry than women with normal levels of cortisol.
Please also remember that the mind is a tremendous tool for wellbeing. In my experience some sort of relaxation therapy is one of the best treatments for infertility, especially in younger women where nothing seems to actually be wrong. Qigong, Tai Chi and Yoga are systems which provide exercise and relaxation as well as stimulating energy. A moderate diet and lifestyle are extremely important as well.
The following have been found by many to be very helpful in relaxing the body and mind, aiding the body in maintaining healthy cortisol levels:
• Tai Chi
• Listening to music
• Breathing exercises
And what about the men?
Issues with male fertility can also be treated with both acupuncture and herbs. In my experience however, men are less willing to be treated, leaving the burden to their female partner. Sometimes when there are problems with sperm quality, fertility specialists will inject a single sperm into an egg cell during an IVF round (a process known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Couples are then led to believe that even with poor sperm, an ideal and healthy pregnancy can still be achieved. Oriental Medicine believes that by far the best results come when both the male and female partners receive treatment of some sort – either acupuncture or herbs, or both. The couples that consistently get pregnant in a shorter period of time are those where both partners receive some sort of TCM treatment.
David Hankey Acupuncture Cork